What will they think about me? What will I do if they all think I’m a loser? What if I say something un-cool and people laugh at me? What happens if no one wants to date me? What if I never have any friends who understand me? What if people discover what kind of person I really am?
Many times we have these fears without ever really addressing them. In fact, many times we don’t even recognize such fears influence our behavior. Whether it’s in school, in sports, or just hanging with friends, we all have things that we are a little afraid of. Whether we know it or not, these fears drive many of our thoughts and actions.
Growing up in a Christian home, I was always aware that God existed. I was always told that He loved me and had called me to do His will. As I grew up, though, I realized that those close to me also had great expectations for me as a Christian. I would here things like; “You are going to be an amazing man of God one day” (right after they pinched my cheeks). People were always looking at me to see how great of a Christian I was going to be, or so I thought.
As time passed, I became more and more aware of the plans and expectations people had for me. As I experienced God more personally, I thought that to serve Him was to live up to the expectations others had for me. I developed a deeper and deeper need to prove myself worthy of these so-called “great things” I would do as a Christian. I had no idea that my desire to prove myself was driving many of my actions.
Many of us have felt as though we had to measure up, especially those of us who were raised in faith-based families. It is actually a very natural thing to try to do what we think we are supposed to do and be what others want us to be. However, this is unhealthy if we allow it to determine our self worth. For me, my desire and image of being “a good Christian” actually started to define who I was. As I worked harder and harder to keep up the image, I actually became afraid that people would not see that I was “a good Christian.”
It is ironic that my sincere love for God was skewed by my desire to prove myself, and actually put me in bondage. I was afraid of what others would think about me to the extent that I let it determine my value. That was never God’s plan.
God does not want us to be more concerned with our Christian reputation than we are with knowing and loving Him. It can sometimes be so easy to paint a picture or project an image of yourself based upon what you think people will like. The problem with projecting such an image is that it takes more and more work to keep it up. After a while, rather than working to make yourself look better, you end up spending all your time trying to make people like the picture better.
God’s plan is not that you look perfect, or “cool,” or even that you spend your time painting a picture of yourself being that way. He is concerned with you, not a picture of you. God desires our hearts, in whatever condition, not being concerned about how we look or our spotless reputation. We need not be scared of what others think of how important or great we are. God already told us our value:
1 Corinthians 6:19b and 20a
(19b)…You are not your own;
(20a) you were bought at a price…”
In God’s sight, we are worth the blood of His Son. If that is true, then God has already defined who we are with the life of His Son. In other words, for those of you who don’t speak “Bible,” there is no use telling everyone that you are “kind of a big deal” (voice inflection added), in God’s eyes you already are “a Big deal.” Although it is not wrong to want to have a good reputation among people, we cannot let it define who we are. That is God’s job.
Singing to God, Derek Webb says in one of his songs: “I got a reputation with everyone, but I don’t want a reputation with you.” May that be the cry of each of our hearts!